Shinzo Abe is set to the become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister after he was re-elected president of the ruling Liberal Democratic party on Thursday, Reuters reported. His victory effectively extends his term in office by another three years.
Abe has been in power since 2012, and had previously held office from 2006 to 2007. He had resigned due to health problems.
“I want to tackle constitutional reform together with all of you,” Abe told his party colleagues after the vote. The prime minister beat his only contender, former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba, by securing 553 out of 807 votes.
Abe is now expected to reshuffle his Cabinet and the party’s leadership lineup in early October before convening a session of the National Diet – Japan’s bicameral legislature – later in the month, Kyodo News quoted unidentified government officials.
The prime minister is scheduled to leave for New York on Sunday to attend the United Nations General Assembly session and hold bilateral talks with world leaders, including United States President Donald Trump. He is likely to face pressure from Trump to reduce Japan’s $69-billion (Rs 4.96 lakh crore) trade surplus, nearly two-thirds of it from auto exports.
During his bid for the party’s top post, Abe pledged to pursue an amendment to Japan’s pacifist Constitution’s Article 9, which bans maintenance of armed forces but has been interpreted to allow a military for self-defence.